Database company targets schools, employers; projects $3-$4M in revenue in next few years

TRAVERSE CITY – When George Gilmore was hired as a consultant for a small management services firm downstate several years ago, he had no idea in just a few year's time he'd quit his consulting practice, buy out the firm's owners and launch the business in an entirely new direction. But then, he hadn't seen the firm's technology yet.

Solutionwhere, Inc., a professional development and custom database applications company, has specialized in web-based management systems since 1996. Gilmore took what began as a one-client project-providing registration and management services to the Genesee County Intermediate School District-and expanded it into an operation that now serves school districts and businesses in 34 states, as well as several countries from right here in Traverse City.

The company produces a bundle of key products geared toward various consumer groups. Coursewhere, its flagship brand, is a customizable course management system designed for K-12 education that can track class enrollment, teacher accreditations and certifications, school billing and more. In the past 12 months alone, the company has processed more than 600,000 class registrations for various clients.

Another program, Employerwhere, connects potential employers with students seeking internship or employment opportunities. The company is also the force behind GreatSchoolJobs.com, a free national online job database for school organizations. Candidates for teaching, coaching and other administrative positions can post their resumes at no cost and have them uploaded instantly to more than 14,000 school districts nationwide.

Those on the hiring end of the process, meanwhile, can choose to upgrade their candidate management system using Hirewhere, a Solutionwhere product, to have access to features including custom applicant-profile forms, third party screening processes, background checks, and more.

The company represents an emerging trend in global economics: small, information-based businesses that, thanks to cutting-edge technology, are able to compete in the international market. Gilmore says tools like video conferencing and online communication programs allow him to service clients in countries as far-flung as Dubai.

"I'm sure being in front of the customer is still important to many companies' sales strategies," he said. "But the way our business is set up, it's not always necessary. I have strong, reliable clients who have been with me 10 years that I've never actually met face to face."

The company's web site, www.solutionwhere.com, plays a key role in introducing new clients to its products. An average of 51,000 unique visitors have visited the Coursewhere site per month over the last three months, and more than 12 million visited the general Solutionwhere site this past year.

Solutionwhere currently employs just five staff members, though Gilmore projects that number will double in the next two to three years. He says it's a testament to the usability of his company's products that a handful of employees have successfully managed so many clients over the years.

"Our philosophy has been to build this company in a controlled way," he said. "We haven't wanted to use outside funding or grow too fast. However, we have products that we haven't marketed properly yet and feel we're now at the point where we can start exploring new opportunities."

One of those opportunities, says Gilmore, is expanding into the for-profit market. Solutionwhere has serviced clients as varied as Best Buy and Tyco International in the past, but has primarily focused on school-based industries. Now, the company is ready to introduce its innovative products to a larger business community.

Even with rapid growth projected for his business-some estimates put the company's revenue at $3 million to $4 million in the next few years, double its current amount.

Gilmore has no plans to relocate Solutionwhere outside of Traverse City.

"When I originally moved here from Bay City, it was because of a job opportunity my wife had. The only reason I came here was because of her," he laughed. "But we both love this area now. We're definitely here to stay."

Their office is at 1010 E. 8th St. Reach them at 935-3000. BN

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